Cape Ann Vernal Pond Team

Our Director's Story

by Rick Roth, Executive Director

Born in Illinois in 1952, by the time I was five, I was spending my time, summers and after school, in the woods, fields and wetlands. Anything wild interested me: turtles, frogs, snakes, crayfish, dragonflies, butterflies, raccoons, skunks, birds. Without realizing it I was leading field trips to local wild areas at a very young age. My friends and schoolmates would join me to see where I was finding all these cool animals. 

More than twenty five years ago a few friends and I founded the Cape Ann Vernal Pond Team (CAVPT). We began by leading nighttime field trips to see the spring breeding activity of spotted salamanders, wood frogs and spring peepers. Most people not only had never seen this, they had no idea it was happening.

Executive Director Rick Roth has had a lifelong interest in wildlife especially reptiles and amphibians. He caught his first snake (Northern brown) on the way home from kindergarten and he was hooked. He'd spend as much time as he could in the fields, creeks and swamps of Northern Illinois. Shown here in 1st grade with a boys regular haircut and already with a space between his front teeth in Mrs. McGuire’s class at Wildwood School where he brought tadpoles, crayfish, turtles and snakes for show & tell.He pretty much still does the same thing. 

Most of our field trippers grew up with the sound of the spring peeper indicating the true beginning of the season. But, most had never seen one let alone one expanding its throat like a balloon to make the peeping sound. And they can't believe such a tiny frog can make such a loud noise. I'm all for saving the rain forest. But I think our local wildlife is interesting and important as well. Nature is wonderful and also necessary. All those open spaces and wildlife habitats are filters for our air and water, and giant oxygen producers. Their significance cannot be overstated.
   Spring Peeper

Soon after we founded CAVPT, members began to certify pools, a process by which these delicate and undervalued wetlands, and some of the adjacent upland habitat, are protected by the state.

I have always had a special interest in snakes since I caught one on my way home from kindergarten. Likely among the most misunderstood animals, snakes are beautiful and fascinating creatures, and thousands of people have changed their outlook about them after attending our presentations. It was always Cape Ann Vernal Pond Team members who volunteered to help with the shows - so I made Snakes of New England and the World (live animal presentation) one of the programs that we offer.

After 27 years we are now an incorporated, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with overhead and an office. For the past several years more than 50 people have volunteered for us in one capacity or another annually. Even though we have more expenses and administrative work to do, we increasingly have more people who share the passion to do the work and raise the money. And it allows us to do more educational outreach than we ever could before.


Northern brown snake and one of her babies, and some spending money

we only have one earth, save it

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Cape Ann Vernal Pond Team    *    Get Outside Center   *   186 Main Street    *    Gloucester, MA  01930

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